Most of us replace our roofs only once every 20 to 30 years. So we don’t keep up with improvements in roofing materials. However, if you’ve recently decided your house needs a new top layer, you’ll want to know how roofing products have evolved, especially with respect to environmental impact and energy efficiency. Fortunately, many roofing products now incorporate recycled or salvaged materials and offer energy-saving features.
Recycling turns refuse into roofing.
Recycling plays a big part in keeping waste out of landfills and managing natural resources. Many roofing products today incorporate up to 90% recycled material. Rubber shingles, for example, are made from old tires. And many metal roofs contain recycled aluminum, steel, or copper.
Recycled composite shingles can often mimic Spanish tile, slate, or shake. They resist fire and stand up well to hail or bad weather. Many come with warranties of up to 50 years. Cost-wise, metal roofs can strain the budget, but rubber shingles are particularly affordable.
However, some homeowners don’t like the look of recycled shingles. And they may be harder to find in your area, or depending on the product, they may not yet be approved for residential use.
Salvaged shingles stay out of landfills.
If you just don’t like the aesthetics of composite roofing and you want a natural roof like wood, tile or slate, you still have some green options. You can avoid the high energy cost of slate and tile manufacture by using shingles salvaged from other buildings. Similarly, wood shingles can be made with boards reclaimed out of old buildings, bridges or mills. There are also some wood shingles made from sustainably managed forests. Look for the Forest Stewardship Council certification for these products.
Although beautiful, natural materials cost more than most composites, and the heavier shingles, like slate and clay, use more fossil fuel in transport. Wood shingles don’t have great fire resistance and only last about 15-25 years in most cases. Also, the more brittle materials, like clay and slate, may crack from hail or falling branches.
Light-colored roofs cool down energy costs.
For natural or composite materials, white or light-colored roofs reflect sunlight, which keeps your home cooler and cuts electricity usage in the summer. The lighter the color and the smoother the surface, the better the reflective effect. However, any light-colored roof will perform better than a dark one.
Green roofs let nature work for you.
If you take your green lifestyle literally, you might even consider a green roof, an updated version of a sod roof with plants growing on it. The plants provide natural insulation and cooling. And of course, the organic material takes no energy to manufacture and will never end up in a landfill. They can be very beautiful and make an unusual visual feature for your home. They also help reduce water runoff.
However, the installation can be very expensive, and it’s not right for every house. The roof cannot slant more than 30 degrees, and it has to get good sunlight. Green roofs require regular maintenance to keep alive and thriving. And with the heavy soil, you might need to reinforce your home’s structure to handle the load.
A green roof may seem a little far-out for most of us, but luckily, you can get environmentally friendly products without having to grow your own. If you’d like to talk about materials that will work best in your situation, contact us at DryHome Roofing and Siding, Inc. for a consult. We’ll help you find the best options for you and for the environment.